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Social context and social capital as enablers of knowledge integration

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This paper argues that social contexts and social capital enable knowledge integration; that different social contexts combined with different types of social capital enable different types of knowledge integration. Four types of social contexts are distinguished based on the extent of social embeddedness and closeness of interorganizational coupling; four types of social capital are also described. Based on the diversity of knowledge streams, the extent of tacitness of knowledge to be exchanged, and value created through such exchanges, four modes of knowledge integration are identified, namely frontier, incremental, combinative, and instrumental. This paper provides new insights about the processes of interorganizational transfer of knowledge: the unique combination of a specific social context with a specific type of social capital means firms can achieve equally effective yet highly differentiated approaches to different modes of knowledge integration.

Keywords: Economic Integration; Human Capital; Information Exchange; Knowledge Management

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2004

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